About the book
Sold toDenmark: Gutkind, Norway: Cappelen Damm
Disaster. It all begins with absolute disaster. A hot, lazy beach day – white light washing white sands – transformed into something malignant, untethering life from what has been, propelling forward into the unknown.
The people? Three young families, their backgrounds vastly different. Some of them pretty and poised. Others fiercely ambitious and unable to hide their fangs. A woman shouting mad and ready to wreak havoc. Another, quietly ready to do… whatever needs to be done. And that’s not even mentioning the money. The hush-hush of having and not having.
Still, they are bound together, a bond that grows into love, a love rooted in that first disaster.
The place? A coastal fishing village, postcard pretty and scented with the salt of sea, the tender warmth of lavender. Or at least that’s what you’d want to see; through the lens of nostalgia, what they’d want you to see. Perhaps, all some allow themselves to see.
The time frame? 40 years of modern European history. The push and pull of macro-economics, pushing and pulling at the fabric of that village, those people, those fragile, fragile promises, and the iron-clad connections underpinning tradition. Safety. The advent of a new time, a new way of looking at those age-old concepts: home, truth, God, woman.
The focal point? A life evolving, a girl growing into voice, and power. A longing to belong, overshadowed by the need to be. To just be.
Even if just being means a final disaster. A burning of it all. A burning of it all to the ground.
Agnes Lidbeck follows up on her previous successes with an epic literary novel. Her exquisite prose, along with her razor-sharp eye for interpersonal relationships and the conditions that shape them, make Nikky’s Book a true autumn must-read.
SHORTLISTED FOR SVENSKA DAGBLADET’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2021
It is a magnificent work that Agnes Lidbeck has achieved with Nikky’s Book
It is a magnificent work that Agnes Lidbeck has achieved with Nikky’s Book. The size is certainly impressive, but the accomplishment even more so. With this novel something completely new appears in her authorship, a distinct difference from the condensed, almost schematic efficiency of her previous novels. Lidbeck’s style is fully recognisable, often terse sentences with assertive observations, but the fact that the plot extends across so many pages makes it sinuous and dynamic; the slightly barren streak that could be found in Supporting Act and The Rift does not exist here. Nikky’s Book has softer edges /… / Through all the years and all the entanglements, the narrator gently guides the reader with comments about the zeitgeist, with reminders that we are dealing with fiction – a fabricated story. And yet everything feels so sincere, so vivid and intimate. Kummelvik becomes such a lucid place, so cinematic, and the characters companions, such familiar company that it almost hurts to leave them – those who are still alive – in the end.Svenska Dagbladet
Agnes Lidbeck’s new novel is a triumph
Agnes Lidbeck’s new novel is a triumph. Substantial in size as well as population-wise, it is an ensemble novel if there is such a term. Three families, almost each of them followed very closely, in the revealing, disclosing way that is typical of Lidbeck /… / Kummelvik on Österlen plays its own part, not only as a setting for most of the events taking place, but also as an illustration of Sweden’s evolvement during the last century. From a barren and rugged fishing village to the decline of the fishing industry, to the financial crisis, to the dotcom bust, to the rise of xenophobia, to gentrification and the glorification of anything that can be hailed as ‘genuine’ (sheepskin, ceramics, honey, homemade surfboards) /… / She does not shy away from anything, all the shameful and embarrassing aspects of human life are exposed in microscopic detail. Agnes Lidbeck certainly has an uncanny knack for illuminating the things you can hardly manage to acknowledge – passive aggression, sublime displays of power, mute but overexplicit rebukes. Things you could never pin on anyone, things you can always gloss over as misunderstandings or misjudgements, perhaps even as ‘jokes’, but that are more violent than a stabbing. Agnes Lidbeck makes you feel exposed as the goon you really are. This, in combination with the premise that a life is simply the sum of its components, have previously made me a little apprehensive about Lidbeck’s stories. I read Nikky’s Book, despite the semi-elegantly inserted contemporary remarks, as if she has found a mojo, or a spiritual dimension. Or if it has found her.Kristianstadsbladet
Lidbeck is a brilliant, ambiguous storyteller who knows how to craft a plot and how to manipulate the reader’s emotions
The story is full of epiphanic moments that exposes the world in all its complexity. It is less of a black and white world, neither good nor evil. But Nikky’s Book is more than anything a novel about love in all its forms. Love as a pastime, shelter, self-reflection, victory against the other, or as engulfing and impossible, unrequited love. Love as ‘kräklek’ [a word play on ‘kärlek’, meaning love], phantom pleasure and homesickness. It is a book about the art of viewing love from a microscopic perspective: a cocktail of hormones, neediness and habitual self-harm. How come love is still mostly portrayed as the opposite of all this – and the only factor that actually means anything at all? It is a question that permeates the entire novel. Another question is that of ‘true love’ that lies ‘underneath the skin’ and that is ‘so obvious that it becomes forgotten’. How do you find such a thing? In the ideals or in the abdication from the ideals? It is difficult to say and it is this uncertainty that makes Lidbeck’s new novel so affectingly warm and compassionate. Even though my general impression of these characters is that most of them are purely in love with themselves, because if they crave love this much, how come they are so afraid of it? Lidbeck is a brilliant, ambiguous storyteller who knows how to craft a plot and how to manipulate the reader’s emotionsGöteborgs-Posten